Nickel Allergy – which metals are safe in equipment and jewellery

A nickel allergy is an allergy to the metal nickel which is used as part of a number of items from jewellery to money  It can cause an itchy rash where your skin touches it, redness, swelling or even blisters.   As with most allergies it develops by prolonged exposure to high nickel items initially.  Not everyone seems vulnerable to this but there is no clear way to tell who might be, although there does seem to be a genetic component.  It is possible to reduce the symptoms once you develop the allergy  but once sensitive you will always be sensitive.


Despite the name a nickel allergy sufferer can also be sensitive to other metals.  The most common are cobalt and palladium but perhaps more importantly other metals contain small amounts of nickel.  This is added as it reduces corrosion and can give a much nicer finish.

Some of these  alloys  include 14K and 19K gold, white gold and stainless steel, although surgical grade steel is usually not a problem.  Surprisingly leather can also be a problem as some curing processes use a small amount of nickel that can stay in the leather.  It is perhaps easier to look for items made of specific things that will not have nickel – titanium, 18K yellow gold, sterling silver, copper and platinum are the best places to start.  The other sensible thing to do is to try to move away from metal in general as it can be very hard to tell what a particular metal alloy contains.  An example of this would be use a plastic watch band rather than a metal one.

With a little adjustment and changes to your lifestyle a nickel allergy can be an annoyance but it is possible to avoid the biggest problems involved with it.

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